In looking at the barriers to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, the CSPI study noted that low calories may be considered a liability by some consumers, even though most Americans need to consume fewer calories. Bigger expenditures on marketing efforts for less healthy foods compared with fruits and vegetables may also put fruits and vegetables at a disadvantage.
“Marketing could give increased perception of value to produce and increase consumer familiarity with how to prepare and consume different types of fruits and vegetables,” the CSPI summary said.
It is interesting to observe that CSPI acknowledged that the “low calorie” label is not always seen as a plus for consumers. While fruits and vegetables are nutritionally dense, some consumers just want to get the most energy per dollar. That is why soft drink companies have been able to boost consumption of sugared pop in developing countries, inexorably creating future problems with obesity at the same time much of the population struggles with malnutrition.
As grown adults, we should be able to make more nuanced choices about the food we eat because we know better. Kale is better than a candy ring. Yet the appeal of the strawberry Starburst never seems to fade as quickly as the attraction of snow peas grows.
This recent study by the IFT revealed that children are even more driven by the appeal of sweet and salty foods.
From that story:
“Children’s decision making has few dimensions,” explained Dr. Adam Drewnowski (CQ), director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition and professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle. Not surprisingly, children lean toward sweets like cookies, chocolate, fruits and juices as well as salty foods that make them feel full like French fries and pizza. But environment, peer groups, family, and exposure to a variety of menu items play a key role in children’s food choices.
“Kids are not as complicated as adults and are not making food choices based on health,” said Dr. Jennifer Orlet Fisher, an associate professor of public health at Temple University, Philadelphia. “Preference trumps all. Children eat what they like and leave the rest.”